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lupex
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Orcs as Kin, not fodder

Fri 28 Sep 2018, 09:11

I have been looking at some alternative adventures sites, using adventure modules from other companies, and a lot of the time Orcs are placed as the aggressors, raiding and terrorising the more peaceful races of the land with he expectation that the adventurers will need to clear out the Orcs to bring peace.

In the Forbidden lands Orcs are a bit more nuanced than the traditional description, with an indepth background and are playable as kin, one of my players chose an old orc warrior. Which puts a bit of a wrinkle in any adventure where Orcs are raiders just out to attack and pillage, as my players are more likely to want to parlay than to just drive them away or raid thier hideouts.

Has this come up in anyone's game so far and what approach would you have to this dilemma?
 
LupNi
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Re: Orcs as Kin, not fodder

Fri 28 Sep 2018, 09:51

The way I see it, orcs are indeed more nuanced and not "evil", but they could definitely turn to pillaging since they don't really have places and resources of their own. It makes sense to me to use a module where orcs are the "baddies", maybe just adding some nuances of moral grey areas to it. Your players should absolutely have an opportunity to negotiate with the orcs, and that just makes the story better by introducing drama! Imagine your player was a dward and they encountered an all-dwarf band of marauders: this will play similarly, with the additional emotional stake that they were all former orc slaves.
 
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Eldhierta
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Re: Orcs as Kin, not fodder

Fri 28 Sep 2018, 10:52

I feel your concern. But I feel that sometimes you have to view it from another angle, especially when it comes to the orcs. A lot of the time their acts of aggression are fueled by the struggle for survival or the dream of a better life for their Kin. The history paints them as aggressive and brutal, but isn't that just because the history is largely written by humans? It isn't surprising that there is a great deal of animosity between the orcs and the humans (their demon-magic wielding adversaries from the Alder Wars and the Kin that first sold them to slavery), as well as the elves and dwarves (their former slave masters and the ones who betrayed them as they fought their masters' wars), considering their common history.

If you flip the perspective you can view the orcs as freedom fighters/revolutionaries who are just taking what they deserve or are settling old scores and grievances. And eat delicious little whiners :D
 
Rasmus
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Re: Orcs as Kin, not fodder

Fri 28 Sep 2018, 12:33

Totally agree with both previous posts, this just adds to it :)

If there are raiders at an adventure site they deserve a small backstory/reason for raiding, regardless of kin.

Hunger and desperation? Revenge? Territorial claims? Or greed - sometimes people are just bastards.

Often when you add a reason you get those grey zones. Depth to the story that helps you answer questions like, can they be reasoned with? Is there something else than the raiders themselves that are causing the problem? Hey, maybee the local tribe is raiding because villagers are poaching their game in the first place?

Then you add the fact that the raiders are orcs. Yes, they have feelings and ambitions and nuances. They’re still brutish. They’re hated. They can’t pronounce ”parley” because of the tusks. They’re a patriarchy, so the women that can communicate well aren’t calling the shots. I think the nuances are interesting because there’s almost no win-win with the orcs. No ”two-state solution”. History is full of examples where people try to get along, try to find common ground, and then fail misserably.

I’m entertained by the thought that your old orc warrior manages to parley a truce, just to have it shattered by a racial slur from a villager followed by violence when the young and rash orcs loose their temper. Its hard to care about who’s right and who’s wrong when you throw hate into the mix.
 
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The1TrueFredrix
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Re: Orcs as Kin, not fodder

Fri 28 Sep 2018, 12:47

Obviously, I agree with you Lupex as regards your reading of the Orcs, and with everyone else too about how to handle it. I had similar thoughts here: https://fictionsuit.org/2018/09/21/forbidden-lands-kin/

But you mention as specific issue of adapting scenarios from other games where Orc are more likely to be pure “chaotic evil” bad guys. I have no idea what specific modules or scenarios you have in mind but the most worrisome situation I can imagine is one along the lines of Lord of the Rings, where a Sauron or Saruman figure has Orc armies, almost slave like in their devotion to exercising their lord’s will, and bickering among themselves. 

As others have said, Orcs have plenty of motivations for doing things other kin might find “evil”, not least simple survival and possible revenge. But working for a “dark lord” is the only scenario I would struggle to fit into this Forbidden Lands world. Yes, they might rely on the Big Bad’s patronage for survival, I guess, but our Orcs have been betrayed by so many patrons I f8nd it hard to believe that would sign up again for lackey-hood. 

If I wanted to adapt such a module to Forbidden Lands, I would look to replacing the Dark Lord with a Orc leader, a Mad King, taking the revenge motivation too far. 

(In my head as I type this I am getting flashes of War for the Planet of the Apes)
Effekt - A fan podcast celebrating Swedish RPGs including, but not limited to: Alien; Coriolis; Forbidden Lands; Symbaroum; and Tales from the Loop. Featuring discussion magazine episodes and Actual Play recordings. https://effektpodcast.org/
 
Rasmus
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Re: Orcs as Kin, not fodder

Fri 28 Sep 2018, 12:54

(In my head as I type this I am getting flashes of War for the Planet of the Apes)
At least they had sign language. Im still trying to say parley with tusks. People around me must think im crazy...
Last edited by Rasmus on Fri 28 Sep 2018, 12:55, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Eldhierta
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Re: Orcs as Kin, not fodder

Fri 28 Sep 2018, 12:55

---------MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD---------



IIRC most locations where orcs are present have these backstories (they have been cast out because of territorial/governatorial disputes; they are "recruiting" skilled craftsmen and workers since their culture hasn't been allowed to flourish in those areas, being slaves and all; they are being assaulted by elves who want to reclaim an elven heart-ruby that has chosen to aid the orcs as recompense for past deeds). The only glaring omission would be the Graveyard of Thunder, where the orcs are simply searching for powerful artifacts to gain more power. But then again, who isn't looking for more power in the Forbidden Lands?


---------END OF MINOR SPOILERS---------

Nevermind, forgot that we we're discussing non-Fria Ligan-material. Nothing to see here...
Last edited by Eldhierta on Mon 01 Oct 2018, 19:58, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Daarkh
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Re: Orcs as Kin, not fodder

Mon 01 Oct 2018, 11:04

I use the orcs as small bands or minor clans. Like the movie "The Warriors" were most characters are street thugs, but still have personalities once you get to know them. If you step into another orcs turf, you better deal, beg or fight your way through.
The reason that Ravenland is not a new Mordor, is just because they lack a true leader. If someone could unite all the clans, the other races would probably be wiped out. 

The computergame Shadow of Mordor is also a great inspiration of orc politics. 
 
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Rymdhamster
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Re: Orcs as Kin, not fodder

Mon 01 Oct 2018, 12:00

I have to say, that when I GM I kind of like it when players try to negotiate and make deals rather than fighting, and if anything I always tend to make orcs in other games more nuanced in order to facilitate this.
But when I want to have orcs that are pure enemies that you need to fight, I like to add some sort of marker for this, like Sauromans white hand. Or from another game that the "pure evil" orc wore sacks over their heads as masks. The sacks was a sign that no quarter would be given, nor asked.
In Ravland, witht he abscence of a proper central power as far as I know, I would probably attribute this to some for of drug. Kind of like the legends of vikings eating toxic shrooms to psych up before a battle. But with some noticable physical effect such as the eyes glowing in a specific color (depending on weather or not you consider orcs to have glowing red eyes as default or not). The effect of the drug itself would make them these crazy, bloodthirsty beasts that can't be reasoned with.
 
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Brior
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Re: Orcs as Kin, not fodder

Mon 01 Oct 2018, 13:09

I have to say, that when I GM I kind of like it when players try to negotiate and make deals rather than fighting, and if anything I always tend to make orcs in other games more nuanced in order to facilitate this.
But when I want to have orcs that are pure enemies that you need to fight, I like to add some sort of marker for this, like Sauromans white hand. Or from another game that the "pure evil" orc wore sacks over their heads as masks. The sacks was a sign that no quarter would be given, nor asked.
In Ravland, witht he abscence of a proper central power as far as I know, I would probably attribute this to some for of drug. Kind of like the legends of vikings eating toxic shrooms to psych up before a battle. But with some noticable physical effect such as the eyes glowing in a specific color (depending on weather or not you consider orcs to have glowing red eyes as default or not). The effect of the drug itself would make them these crazy, bloodthirsty beasts that can't be reasoned with.
You could use the orch Isir clan with green venomous saliva as a marker. They're often just out to kill everybody else.
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